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UPDATE: The permanent and special exhibits at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum are open to the public. Our Research Room remains to closed to the public. We will continue to respond to written requests for records at gwbush.library@nara.gov. Please check the Library and Museum's website for updates on our operating hours and status.

The love affair between America’s presidents and America’s pastime began with our country’s first president, George Washington, who would play rounders at Valley Forge. The love affair has only grown stronger in the two centuries since as Presidents have played and cheered for baseball. In 1910, President William Howard Taft began the annual tradition of the President throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season. Through wars and economic depressions, Presidents have gone to the ballpark to reassure the country. Baseball has influenced the American presidency by providing a fun and cherished annual tradition, an opportunity for Presidents to connect with their fellow citizens, and a venue to send messages of strength and American values to the world.

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Autographed baseball card depicting Chico Fernandez, shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies CS1259387
Autographed baseball card depicting Chico Fernandez, shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies, attached to a notecard with a handwritten and signed note from a young George W. Bush asking for an autograph. (CS12.59.38.7)

George W. Bush once said, “I never dreamed about being President. I wanted to be Willie Mays.” That love of baseball has been a constant in his life. When asked about his favorite boyhood memory, he replied that it was “playing Little League baseball in Midland.” Like his father and grandfather, President Bush played baseball at Yale University. In 1989, he was part of a group of investors that purchased the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. As managing general partner, President Bush was instrumental in securing funding for the team’s new home, The Ballpark in Arlington.

Every year of his administration, President Bush brought tee ball to the South Lawn of the White House in recognition of its importance in fostering teamwork among America’s youth. In 2007, President Bush recognized the 60 year anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball by hosting a commemorative game on the South Lawn and retiring Robinson’s #42 at the White House field.

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National League baseball signed by Willie Mays. "To a fine Boy, Best Wishes." According to the White House, President George W. Bush's love of baseball began during his childhood in Midland, Texas, where he played Little League Baseball and dreamed of following in the footsteps of baseball great, Willie Mays. (CS09.2.309)
National League baseball signed by Willie Mays. "To a fine Boy, Best Wishes." According to the White House, President George W. Bush's love of baseball began during his childhood in Midland, Texas, where he played Little League Baseball and dreamed of following in the footsteps of baseball great, Willie Mays. (CS09.2.309)

President Bush hosted the living National Baseball Hall of Famers at the White House in 2001 and 2004. He expressed that it was one of his favorite White House events, saying, “It's kind of like having your baseball card collection spread out in real life.” President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the President can bestow, to three former baseball players:  Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Buck O’Neil. 

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President George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Game Three of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.
President George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Game Three of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees. (P9154-13)

President Bush carried on the tradition of throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season. The most impactful first pitch of the Bush Administration happened at the end of a season rather than the beginning. On October 30, 2001, only a few weeks after the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11th, President Bush traveled to New York City and threw out the first pitch of Game 3 of the Yankees-Diamondbacks World Series at Yankee Stadium. His attendance at the game, just miles away from Ground Zero, symbolized the strength of the United States and encouraged healing in New York and throughout the nation. His pitch to Yankees catcher Todd Greene was a perfect strike.

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Zippered pullover, navy fleece embroidered with "George W. Bush" and "FDNY" in white and red, "Fire Department, City of New York" patch on sleeve. POTUS wore the pullover to throw out the first pitch at the 2001 World Series baseball game in Yankee Stadium. (DO.183824)
Zippered pullover, navy fleece embroidered with "George W. Bush" and "FDNY" in white and red, "Fire Department, City of New York" patch on sleeve. POTUS wore the pullover to throw out the first pitch at the 2001 World Series baseball game in Yankee Stadium. (DO.183824)

Resources

The following carefully selected resources, some of which are from the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, provide further information about the America's favorite pastime, Baseball. 

Digitized Presidential Records

White House Office of Records Management

RE (Recreation)

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

Archival Research Guide

For a more complete guide of the archival records that are open for research, please download the Archival Research Guide:

Material at the George W. Bush Presidential Library Pertaining to Baseball, Softball and Tee Ball